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Insiang 1976 full movie free
Insiang 1976 full movie free: Firstly, The life of a young girl living with her mother in the slums of Manila becomes unbearable when her mother’s young boyfriend moves in with them.
Trapped in the slums, Insiang finds living with her disapproving, sharp-tongued mother, Tonya, trying. Tonya, having long ago been abandoned by her husband, takes her bitterness out on those around her. In a fit of anger, she finally throws out her husband’s relatives who have been living with her, but it’s not for the sake of their not bringing in money anymore, which it seems on the surface. She’s making way for her boyfriend, Dado, to move in.
Dado, the town bully, is young enough to be her son, and this new living situation becomes the talk of the town. It isn’t long before he forces himself upon Insiang. Tonya is at first outraged but soon takes Dado’s side and blames her daughter for her own rape. Insiang leaves home to seek support and solace from her ardent would-be boyfriend Bebot, but he proves to be another Lothario as well. Forced to return home, Insiang turns this inescapable situation upon itself to exact revenge.
nsiang (Tagalog pronunciation: [inʃjaŋ]) is a 1976 Philippine drama film directed by Lino Brocka. Its screenplay, written by Mario O’Hara and Lamberto E. Antonio, is based on O’Hara’s teleplay of the same name. Set in the slums of Tondo, Manila, the film stars Hilda Koronel as the eponymous character: the young daughter of a resentful mother (Mona Lisa), whose much-younger lover (Ruel Vernal) rapes her. After her assault and the betrayal of her own lover (Rez Cortez), Insiang seeks revenge. A representation of urban poverty, the film explores themes of betrayal, revenge, and despair.
It is the first Philippine film shown at the Cannes Film Festival, and to use Tondo as a shooting location. A box-office failure, Insiang received good reviews from critics (some of whom regarded it as one of Brocka’s best). The film’s rights were transferred to the Film Development Council of the Philippines in 2015 by producer Ruby Tiong Tan for the council’s discussion with Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to film preservation, about its restoration. The restored version was selected for screening in the Cannes Classics section of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, and played at a number of other film festivals.
In the shanty town of Tondo, Insiang works as a laundrywoman. Her mother Tonya, whose husband left her and her daughter for another woman, sells fish at a market. She has become cruel and domineering to Insiang, preventing her daughter from pursuing relationships with men although she is romantically involved with Dado, a butcher several years her junior. Tonya evicts her sister-in-law and her family from their home, saying that they are a burden, and Dado moves in the following day.
Insiang’s car-mechanic boyfriend, Bebot, sneaks into her house one night and asks her to have sex to make up for missing their date. She spurns his advances, telling him to leave before Dado (who sneaks out of his bedroom) awakens. Tonya learns about the affair, and slaps Insiang repeatedly. Dado meets with Bebot and warns him not to go near Insiang again, explaining that he has a hold over the girl and her mother.
After learning from Bebot about Dado’s threat, Insiang confronts Dado for meddling in her relationship. When he claims that Bebot is cavorting with other women and his threat was intended for her security, Insiang disagrees. He chokes her into unconsciousness later that night, and carries her away.
Tonya finds her crying in pain the next morning, and learns that she has been raped by Dado. When he returns home, Tonya throws objects at him and tells him to leave. He admits having sex with Insiang, but convinces Tonya that her daughter tried to seduce him by bathing (and lying nude) in his presence. Tonya then blames Insiang for the assault, comparing her daughter to the girl’s womanizing father. Bebot agrees to elope with Insiang to prove his love for her. They check into a cheap hotel in Binondo, where they consummate their relationship. Insiang wakes up alone the next morning, with no idea where Bebot is.
She returns home, and is forgiven by Tonya on the condition that she works with her at the market to keep her from seducing Dado again. Dado sneaks into Insiang’s bedroom that night and admits his attraction to her, explaining that being with Tonya is the only way he can be near her. Insiang invites him to have sex the following night. She finds Bebot acting cold and distant the following day; that night, Insiang asks Dado to avenge her.
Dado and his gang beat up Bebot at the dump the next day. Over the following days, Insiang and Dado’s relationship becomes intimate. A jealous Tonya confronts her daughter, who reveals that she and Dado have been having sex because he has been attracted to her all along. Furious, she stabs Dado to death as Insiang watches without apparent shock or pity.
Sometime later, Insiang visits Tonya in prison. Uninterested in seeing her at first, Tonya tells her daughter that she has no qualms about murdering Dado; she did it so they could not be together. Insiang replies that she was disgusted with him for raping her, and wanted Tonya to kill Dado in anger and jealousy. Tonya says that Insiang must be overjoyed now that she has her revenge. Insiang tearfully hugs Tonya, craving her affection. When Tonya responds coldly, Insiang leaves her. Consumed with guilt, Tonya tearfully watches her daughter walk away from behind the prison bars.
Insiang explores themes of betrayal, revenge, and despair. According to Lino Brocka, “The film is basically a character study of a young girl growing up in the slums. I wanted to show the violence of the overcrowded neighborhoods; the loss of human dignity caused by the social environment and the ensuing need for change.”
It has been associated with the rape and revenge subgenre. Don Jaucian of CNN Philippines said that the film’s opening scene, depicting pigs being butchered, was “a thinly veiled depiction of the plight of the Filipinos under the Martial Law regime”. Some critics have associated the slaughterhouse scene with the country’s poverty.
The film was originally an episode of the Philippine television dramatic series Hilda, which aired in 1974 with 17-year-old Hilda Koronel in the lead role. The screenplay, by Mario O’Hara, was inspired by a family he once knew. Producer Ruby Tiong Tan (a stockbroker at the time) was approached by Brocka to pitch the film with O’Hara’s script: “That was the first time I met him.
I found him to be sincere, professional, convincing; he had a fire in his eyes as he spoke. That impressed me. I couldn’t turn him down. At the end of that meeting, I told him ‘yes, let’s do the film'”. Two days later, filming began for 21 days, on location in Tondo. Policemen were on duty during the shoot to prevent the crew from being bothered by gangsters, since the slums of Tondo had an organized-crime presence. The filmmakers had to work quickly, wrapping production in time for the first Metro Manila Film Festival.
Insiang’s initial release in the Philippines was halted under the regime of President Ferdinand Marcos in 1976. Marcos’s wife Imelda was critical of the film, saying that it barely depicted a “beautiful view” of the Philippines, and it was a target of censorship by governing bodies for the same reason. Religious officials and the public protested, which obliged the censors to lift the ban and allow the film to be released.
It was unsuccessful at the Philippine box office, forcing Brocka’s production company (CineManila Corporation) into bankruptcy. The film was entered in the 1976 Metro Manila Film Festival, and won its four categories: Best Actress (Koronel), Best Supporting Actor (Vernal), Best Supporting Actress (Lisa), and Best Cinematography (Conrado Baltazar).
Producer Ruby Tiong Tan was contacted that year by Cannes Film Festival artistic adviser Pierre Rissient, who told her that Insiang had been selected as a Best Foreign Film entry. Tiong Tan, Koronel and Brocka traveled to France for the festival, the producer reportedly smuggling the film rolls in her luggage to prevent customs officers from confiscating them; she had added English subtitles.
At the 1978 Cannes festival, the film premiered during the festival’s Directors’ Fortnight section to critical acclaim; it was the first Philippine film shown at Cannes. Koronel’s performance led to her front-page appearance in the French daily Le Monde. In the United States, however, the film was less well-received at its premiere.
Later release and home media
Film poster, with a pensive Insiang and the title outlined in white
Cannes Classics poster for Insiang
In 2015, Insiang was digitally restored in a joint effort by the World Cinema Project (owned by director Martin Scorsese), L’Immagine Ritrovata and the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP). For its preservation, the film’s rights were transferred by Ruby Tiong Tan to the FDCP. The three organizations were also involved in the 2013 restoration of Manila in the Claws of Light (Maynila, sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag), a film directed by Brocka in 1974.
Insiang was shown as part of the Cannes Classics section at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival on May 16. It was also screened at the New York Film Festival (hosted by the Film Society of Lincoln Center) on September 28, and at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) from October 28 to November 3 of that year. The restored version was screened at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on April 9 with other preserved films, including The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965).
The British Film Institute released the restored version in the United Kingdom as a 2017 box set, Two Films by Lino Brocka, which includes two DVDs and two Blu-ray discs (one for each film) of Manila in the Claws of Light and Insiang. Both transfers of the Insiang disc include Signed: Lino Brocka, a 1987 documentary directed by Christian Blackwood with an in-depth look at Brocka’s life and career. Insiang joined the Criterion Collection as part of Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 2.
Reception and legacy
Insiang received good reviews from foreign and domestic critics, some of whom called it Lino Brocka’s masterpiece. Richard Brody of The New Yorker called it an “intense, furious melodrama” which “fuses its narrative energy with documentary veracity”.
Manohla Dargis of The New York Times said, “Throughout, Mr. Brocka, working with his excellent director of photography, Conrado Baltazar, creates images of startling power, like that of bloody hands clutching in the void.” Nick Schager of Slant Magazine gave the film a score of 3.5 out of 4: “Brocka’s portrait of familial treachery and societal abandonment channels its melodrama through the filter of neorealism, its story’s heightened emotions kept at a simmer by an aesthetic at once verité-blunt and yet shrewdly, meticulously composed.”
José B. Capino of Film Comment said, “Brocka’s handling of melodrama is nothing short of virtuoso.” Michael Joshua Rowin of Reverse Shot (a Museum of the Moving Image publication) was, however, critical of its status as a masterpiece: “Insiang is all skeleton and little flesh: the actors trudge in front of the camera, woodenly recite the purely functional lines from Lamberto E. Antonio and Maria O’Hara’s screenplay, and wait for Brocka to provide some sort of commentary. None arrives.”
The review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 100 percent, based on six critics, and a weighted average of 7.4 out of 10. O’Hara adapted the script into a play for the Tanghalang Pilipino (Philippine Theater) in 2004. The Philippine Star listed Insiang seventh on its 25 Most Memorable Films list in 2011.
Forget the rest! Hilda Koronel’s magnificent performance as the title character is enough to recommend this tale of rape and revenge, seduction and squalor, power and poverty. Hilda lives in a slum in Manila, maltreated by her domineering mother (Mona Lisa). Her mother has a lover (Ruel Vernal) old enough to be her son. Vernal, doing the lover bit because Lisa holds the household money, has his eyes set on Insiang. He rapes her but Insiang turns things around, getting Vernal to be her parasitic paramour. Great film noir, great performances.
Lino Brocka’s 1976 melodrama of slum family love double-crosses was the first Filipino film to be shown at Cannes and is being revived at festivals. It deserves to be seen for the female actors, mother Tonia (Mona Lisa, credible as an aging lady who’s still highly sexed and attractive) and gorgeous daughter Insiang (pronounced “Inshang”).
Hilda Koronel, who plays Insiang, is enough like a Loren or a Lollobrigida to make you think of Fifties or Sixties Italian cinema and the visual style is conventionally of an early period, but this brutal story lacks the humanity and warmth of the Italians.
Tonia drives a family of in-laws out of her shack (which is in with other families; in this barrio there is no privacy and all is known) because she can’t feed them, but her ulterior motive is to bring in Dado, a handsome, macho man and a gambling no-good probably young enough to be her son, as her lover. Insiang has several young men interested in her, but the one she chooses is too cowardly and lazy to run away with her as she would like.
Soon Dado puts the make on Insiang. It turns out badly for just about everyone in this miserablist drama, which has been compared to Fassbinder and Sirk. It’s been commented that the story undercuts the two major values in Filipino film motherhood and the sanctity of the family. Brocka certainly keeps things lively, as do popular dramatic films from other Third World countries, and telenovelas. Yes, this holds the attention; but unfortunately the print used for the NYFF 2006 showing was an ugly-looking digital transfer that made all the boys look pimply and the shots look shoddy. Only Koronel’s face shines through.
By turns lyrical and crude, laid-back and feverishly overheated, Lino Brocka’s “Insiang” (1976) is at once original and yet so familiar that you may find yourself annotating it with cinematic footnotes as the story unfolds. Among the names that rise like vapors amid the film’s sweaty lovemaking, its convulsive violence and harshly discordant flute trilling are Roberto Rossellini, Samuel Fuller and Fannie Hurst, whose wildly popular novels (“Imitation of Life” and “Back Street” included) provided golden age Hollywood with some of its most memorable sob sister agonies. (Having been recently restored, “Insiang” is
playing for one week at the Museum of Modern Art, starting Wednesday.)
Tears flow like the river under the house in which the title character (Hilda Koronel), a serene beauty and Filipino Everywoman, lives, works, endures and finally fights. The director, Mr. Brocka (1939-91), makes the house, a patchwork of metal, wood and cardboard, an early focal point, turning it into a microcosm of the sprawl and misery that surround it. Here, Insiang lives with her harsh, bullying mother, Tonya (an excellent Mona Lisa), and a gaggle of relatives that includes a fistful of young children. As Mr. Brocka plays with his framing, going from tight to wide, putting the scene’s combustibility into stark visual terms, he transforms this one family into a pungent city
The story, written by Mario O’Hara and Lamberto Antonio, from a novel by Mr. O’Hara, is the least of it. The melodramatic machinery kicks in after Mr. Brocka oils it with some grim scene-setting, starting with the ghastly image of a pig being gutted in a slaughterhouse filled with screaming, dying animals that leads to a documentary portfolio of human squalor — all this turns out to be a warm-up for the brutalization of Insiang, including by Tonya. Having been abandoned by her faithless husband, Tonya has become the family’s volubly aggrieved, increasingly impatient main breadwinner. Insiang picks up a little money doing
laundry, but it’s never enough, and one day, in a fury, Tonya evicts her husband’s relatives.
Just as its introductory scene’s slaughterhouse apparatus violently destroys pigs, so, too, does the crushing poverty of the Philippines—specifically, the countryside slums of Tondo—crush the titular heroine of Lino Brocka’s 1976 Insiang, a woman trapped in an environment of destitution and abuse against which she can only struggle violently, and vainly. The first Philippine film ever presented at Cannes, Brocka’s portrait of familial treachery and societal abandonment channels its melodrama through the filter of neorealism, its story’s heightened emotions kept at a simmer by an aesthetic at once verité-blunt and yet shrewdly, meticulously composed.
Nowhere is the director’s command more understated and potent than a sequence in which melancholic music is used to link Insiang (Hilda Koronel) and boyfriend Bebot’s (Rez Cortez) lovemaking to her discovery, the next morning, that he’s absconded; in effect, Insiang’s desperate idealism and subsequent disillusionment are seen as two sides of the same coin.
Certainly, the roots of her misery extend all the way home, where her mother, Tonia (Mona Lisa), bitter about her husband’s departure, kicks her financially strapped in-laws to the curb so she might have her young lover, Dado (Ruel Vernal), move in, before proceeding to badger her daughter into a Machiavellian rage. Beset by maternal resentment, Bebot’s love-’em-and-leave-’em callousness, and Dado’s rapist tendencies, Insiang plots her revenge, with Brocka expertly dramatizing the (understandable, if not prudent) reasons for each character’s behavior.
What registers most forcefully throughout isn’t Insiang’s literal plot twists and turns as much as the pervading mood of lonely powerlessness and the reactionary impulse to strike back against intractable forces and situations by any means necessary. It’s an undercurrent conveyed by Koronel’s guileless countenance and the director’s unaffected depiction of the impoverished setting and its beleaguered inhabitants.
Insiang’s defiant actions cast the film as a lurid ode to feminist self-actualization. But with his misery-wrought finale, and its tangled knot of obstinate, volatile, unfulfilled feelings and desires, Brocka ensures that any minor triumph enjoyed by his morally and emotionally warped protagonist is tempered by an overriding dose of bittersweet sorrow and despair.
This intense, furious melodrama, by the Filipino director Lino Brocka, fuses its narrative energy with documentary veracity. The title character (played by the fierce, dignified Hilda Koronel) is the daughter of a vengeful, sexually voracious shrew who hates the girl because of her philandering father, who abandoned the family.
The young woman loves an ineffectual man named Bebot and spurns the advances of her mother’s live-in lover, Dado, a gigolo and petty bandit who is the neighborhood bully. Smarting from Insiang’s rejection, Dado rapes her.
Unable to escape the shantytown, she instead seeks revenge. Brocka’s method is unflinching: filming on location in a slum neighborhood in Manila, where work is scarce and even backbreaking jobs are coveted, he fills the drama with the desperate striving of its residents and the steady film frame with the elements of their subsistence. Open sewers, outdoor plumbing, gambling tables, and smoking garbage dumps are as much the agents of destiny as the characters whose existence they define. Released in 1976. In Filipino, English, and Tagalog.
If, within art cinema, there comes the instant gravitation to less the film than the name — the all-powerful auteur that supposedly doesn’t have to bow down to corporate masters — then even with a film as immediately striking as 1976’s Insiang, we begin with its author, Lino Brocka. Even in a life cut tragically short, he left enough of a mark to still be considered the Philippines’ greatest filmmaker, amongst his laurels being the nation’s first director to play in competition at Cannes. A particular association made with him was an outspoken criticism of the Philippines’ dictator-in-chief, Ferdinand Marcos.
But carrying that expectation over to Insiang, even without one mention of Marcos’ name throughout the film, the presence of both a fundamentally rotten authority and people left to fend for themselves in poverty leans a viewer, even the uninformed, towards assuming a greater institutional critique.
Yet to quickly sum up its political relevance brings to mind what Nick Pinkerton noted in his piece on the poliziotteschi genre a couple of years ago — how film critics tend to have the inclination to assume an all-knowing historical perspective, as if regurgitating “research” from various Wikipedia pages instantly gives us a complete understanding of a work’s place in time.
In the case of Brocka’s film, being the recipient of a new digital restoration — and thus given somewhat of a moment in the spotlight — the urge to locate the reason, so to speak, behind its fervor runs high. Though perhaps that comes in simply illuminating its merits.
At a lean 95 minutes, the film manages to shift multiple perspectives within its ensemble, all anchored by the titular Insiang (Hilda Koronel), an exceptionally beautiful 17-year-old girl tended over by her distracted single mother, Tanya (Mona Lisa), who’s still bitter from being abandoned by her husband and Insiang’s father.
Tanya takes in a new lover, Dado (Ruel Vernal), a much younger street thug. It doesn’t take long for him to turn his attention to Insiang, resulting in her rape. Finding no solace in others — or, rather, ultimately facing an indifferent justice system (earlier in the film, another attempted assault from one of her siblings is brushed off — she has to turn to her own form of martial law, thought to which isn’t exactly a simple process of revenge.
This fraught atmosphere extends to the streets and neighbors; eyes peering from windows — everyone’s a voyeur to others’ misery, as if to relieve themselves from their own — including from a fellow teen with a crush on Insiang but none of the courage to speak to her. But the boy’s counter — and Insiang’s beau, the dim-witted Bebot (Rez Cortez), who is prone to uncomfortably feeling her up at the cinema — only lets her down when she turns to him after her traumatic experience.
Being located in the bustling streets of a Filipino slum and not heading anywhere near an uplifting humanist outcome, Brocka’s film could be branded with the dirtiest words within Third World cinema: “poverty porn” or “miserabilism.” But the trick up Brocka’s sleeve is in not shying away from a genre-play; creating as much a heated, violent melodrama as, say, Anthony Mann’s The Furies. Of course, melodrama is not chained to Hollywood; Rossellini’s films starring Ingrid Bergman managed to bond realism with heightened emotions and narrative beats.
Yet Brocka’s blunt-force begins to border on another genre, as evidenced in its opening scene, which presents not the film’s titular character, but rather the image and sounds of pigs being gutted in an abattoir — a slaughterhouse brutality that instantly recalls Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre from only two years prior.
It’s with this that Insiang takes something of a place within ’70s exploitation cinema, or rather the particularly nasty sub-genre known as the rape-revenge picture (key titles being I Spit On Your Grave and The Last House on the Left). These are films that didn’t shy away from excessive violence against women nor the retaliating gesture of castration, certainly operating on an unhinged moral compass.
It initially seems strange to place Insiang within this genre. The easy binary is that Third World cinema uses realism as both a counter to glossy mainstream films and as to capture “Life The Way It Is,” while exploitation films’ grittier means are simply all they have at their disposal for the sake of sensationalism. Holding the film to a certain expectation — being that it uses a specific, or rather marginalized milieu — it’s still not hard to see Brocka reconfiguring “reality” rather than just capturing it; it’s rough, but not necessarily raw, for every image and rhythm feels perfectly calibrated.
Moreso, it isn’t interested in a simple pain-and-recovery narrative or as a feminist work, as, after all, Tanya comes off as second to Dado as the most despicable character in the film, blaming Insiang for her own assault. It’s from here that the complicated morality becomes most set: one generation damned to being a victim of the past’s mistakes. It ends in blood, the already fractured institution of family only facing another apocalypse-of-sorts. Forty years removed from this film, what transcends a fixed point of socio-political interest is the eternal howl into the night.
Insiang 1976 full movie free online
Insiang: one unhappy family
Lino Brocka opens Insiang (1976) with the closeup of a pig stabbed in the throat, blood pouring as if out of a spigot. We see row upon row of headless carcasses, bellies split open from neck to crotch, pink skin not unlike a human corpse. The film’s cinematographer, the great Conrado Baltazar, captures the haze heat stink and noise of a busy slaughterhouse like no one else before or since.
An amazing beginning, with image foreshadowing the slaughter to come. The image is also a challenge: “Violence on flesh is nothing compared to the violence that can be inflicted on heart and mind.” The slaughterhouse scene strikes a particular note, its message loud and clear: “the worst is yet to come.”
Brocka takes us to the Tondo slums, a cramped community of cobbled-together shanties located near Smoky Mountain (literally a smoldering mountain of garbage, the official dumping ground of Metro Manila at that time). Baltazar’s camera captures the stench of choked-up canals, the shudder of corrugated tin nailed to plywood, the din of brown bodies yelling their way through narrow alleyways.
When we meet Insiang and her mother Tonya they are about to rid themselves of freeloading relatives, a clever little scene that establishes Tonya (the imperious Mona Lisa) as a strong sharp-tongued woman and Insiang (lovely Hilda Koronel) as a gentle soul embarrassed by her mother’s scandalous behavior. The scene also introduces a yet-unseen third character, when an in-law accuses Tonya of ulterior motives for getting rid of them: she has a new lover, and needs the additional privacy.
Insiang realizes the truth the worse way possible–at night listening to Tonya and Dado, one of the slaughterhouse butchers (stereotypically villainous Ruel Vernal, in possibly the role of his career). When Tonya comes out of her bedroom (really a corner of the shack closed off with curtain) she faces Insiang’s accusing stare. She turns away: her bladder is full and she must squat to urinate in a hole on the floor (the family can’t afford the luxury of a toilet bowl).
Insiang’s rape–an act swift and brutal as the fist Dado drives into Insiang’s gut to shut her up–initiates the girl’s turnaround. After Dado, everyone lines up to humiliate or betray her–her mother, by believing Dado over her; her boyfriend Bebot (a young and pretty Rez Cortez) by eloping with then abandoning her in a motel room. With nowhere else to go she returns home to Tonya, and the waiting Dado.
We see the first sign of change when Dado sneaks to Insiang one night and professes his love; Insiang realizes what is being offered and asks a favor. Cut to the slopes of Smoky Mountain, where Dado and his boys surround Bebot, pounding him into bloody pulp. A harrowing scene but also (you sense) a preliminary scene–a fledgling flexing her muscles, trying out new wings. Insiang punishes Bebot for her humiliation; next she addresses the issue of betrayal, the penalty accordingly more severe–
I call Insiang Brocka’s masterpiece. It’s easily his tautest most intense work with an elegantly structured screenplay (by Lamberto Antonio from the television script by Mario O’Hara–which, in turn, O’Hara had fashioned out of a radio drama by comedienne-writer Mely Tagasa*). It’s also Brocka’s most atypical, and atypical of even most Filipino films.
The story is marvelously compact with only three significant characters (Dado Tonya Insiang) in essentially a single setting (there are scenes outside of the shanty but they’re incidental to the basic drama), the events taking place over a span of a few weeks. There’s little fat in this film, little waste–to be honest there’s little to waste, which is appropriate considering that utilization is one of the film’s underlying main themes: Tonya uses Insiang to revenge herself on her absent husband; Dado uses Tonya to get close to Insiang; Insiang in turn uses Dado to get even with everyone who has wronged her.
The film is comparable to Shakespeare’s elegantly plotted Othello only with focus on Iago’s rise than on Othello’s fall. Insiang shares qualities with Iago–she’s driven by hate; she learns to kill indirectly, by manipulating powerful emotions like lust jealousy anger. Iago makes the mistake of holding the knife himself (that’s how he’s caught); Insiang manages to keep her hands clean, though she’s guilty of an arguably greater crime–she repents.**
Insiang lacks the town-wide sprawl of Brocka’s Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang (You Were Judged and Found Wanting, 1974) the melancholy meander of Maynila sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag (Manila in the Claws of Neon, 1975). It’s the rare Brocka film that features true ambiguity–by film’s end you can’t definitively establish who is good and who evil, who’s the rapist and who the raped. You lay blame on and sympathize with all three alike, dancing helplessly in a daisy chain of lust and loathing.
The film is unique in another sense. Philippine cinema is dominated by the twin overarching themes of ‘a mother’s love’ and ‘a family’s survival’–nearly all Filipino films revolve on one or the other subject, preferably both. Insiang takes these two great themes and dashes them to the ground, revealing them to be more social constructs than immortal truths. The film in effect is saying: “there are no guarantees, not from family, not from mother; if anything, the most painful betrayals are committed by mother and family both. You are ultimately alone.”
*(Interesting and maddening thing about Philippine film history is that so little of it is documented or verifiable; O’Hara told me in an interview that the story of Insiang is based on what happened to the neighbors living behind his family’s house in Pasay; Mely Tagasa told me in a separate interview that O’Hara had based his story on a radio drama she had written, and admitted as much when the story debuted onstage as a 2002 theatrical production at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Possibly one, or the other, or both stories are true–that O’Hara might have taken aspects from Ms. Tagasa’s script and from his own personal experiences. Possible there’s a whole other explanation entirely, and we’ll never know for sure.)
**(I think the film Insiang suffers from two flaws, one self-inflicted the other imposed. There’s the premise–that a girl looking like Koronel would be stranded in the slums of Tondo without leaving or becoming some rich man’s mistress (Koronel was and remains a stunner–when the film screened in the 1978 Director’s Fortnight, France Soir ran a picture of her twice the size of Farrah Fawcett).
To complaints that Koronel “is too beautiful for the slums,” Brocka had the perfect response: “but Koronel is from the slums.” Good answer–only she didn’t stay; she left and became a star. O’Hara’s screenplay was set in Pasay, which makes a difference–the countless bars nightclubs whorehouses guarantee that even a woman as beautiful as Koronel can live relatively unnoticed. Brocka moved the setting to Tondo, near Smoky Mountain, presumably because he wanted the visual impact of the slums–in other words opting for drama over authenticity.
The second more serious flaw: censors refused to accept Insiang’s unyielding stance towards her mother, so Brocka shot a coda in Bilibid Prison, where Insiang clumsily reveals her plan of revenge then–unbelievably–asks for forgiveness. It’s the only moment in the film that actually descends into bathos; worse, it makes total hash of all that came before, flies in the face of the film’s otherwise unflinching sensibilities.)
Insiang is available from The Criterion Collection.
A young woman raped by her mother’s new boyfriend finds a new way to exact revenge.
Director Lino Brocka’s film was filmed during the period of time when the Philippines was under martial law (1972-1981)! I have no doubts whatsoever that this film was a form of protest and spoke volumes against the Marcos by way of symbolism and startling imagery of slums and its impoverished people! The later got the film temporarily banned for it contradicted the image Mrs. Marcos was so desperate to sell!
At face value the film will wreck you! Deplorable conditions no human being should have to experience for even one moment muchless live in it day after day! Having pondered the film overnight I have come to the conclusion that Insiang is not a character so much as she IS the country! This in essence is the story of the betrayal, rape and pillaging of the Philippines by the Marcos regime!
Many will be offended by the opening scene in the slaughterhouse, I winced so I can’t say that I blame you for your kneejerk reaction! But in my opinion it was justified for it was a literal cry for help! A metaphor if you will for the pain and suffering the filipino’s were wrongfully having to endure!
The plot synopsis sells revenge; what it doesn’t sell, however, are the devastating effects that it can inflict in oneself as a double-edged sword. Of course that we can trace revenge back to classic literature in the B.C. era, and it is an element that modern films, especially Asia, have restored with a focus of escapism and style, sometimes portraying violence as an art. Insiang doesn’t. Insiang punches you in the face with descriptive neorealism and emotional violence, rather than with graphic violence, which is kept in a second layer.
Brusque, brutal masterpiece equally informed by empathy and disgust. Kills me every time. Also: a master class in the use of real-world locations, direct sound, and zoom lenses.
I seem to be on a bit of a run of watching films depicting people who live in crushing poverty, but unlike say The Young and the Damned, Insiang filters its realism through a prism of melodrama – which makes for a different, slightly less powerful movie.
Martin Scorsese World Cinema Project
Second film of Brocka that I absolutely loved.
Not as emotionally impactful as Manila: In the Claws of Light, but this film is a painfully honest and powerful character study on how the misogyny and the trash acts of the men shown in the film can change a woman, it’s a bleak, dark film and not as accessible as Manila, and like Manila, Brocka uses real locations and natural lighting to shoot the film, he also utilizes improvisation for the actors and actresses in the film, who don’t have that much experience in acting, which makes the acting fantastic and natural. A very realistic take on misogyny.
Original Title: Insiang 1976, Az anya, a lány és a szerető 1976,Insiang – O Lírio de Manila 1976,Insiang, o Lírio de Manila 1976,O Lírio de Manila 1976,Insiang 1976,Инсианг 1976,Das Mädchen Insiang 1976
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Directed by Lino Brocka
Screenplay by Mario O’Hara, Lamberto E. Antonio
Story by Mario O’Hara
Starring Hilda Koronel, Mona Lisa, Ruel Vernal, Rez Cortez, Marlon Ramirez
Music by Minda D. Azarcon
Cinematography Conrado Baltazar
Edited by Augusto Salvador
Production company CineManila Corporation
Language: Filipino, Tagalog, English
Length: 94 min
Release Date in Philippines: 25 December 1976
Publish Date: 2019-09-20
Hilda Koronel … Insiang
Mona Lisa … Tonya
Rez Cortez … Bebot
Marlon Ramirez … Nanding
Ruel Vernal … Dado
Nina Lorenzo … Ludy
Mely Mallari … Sister-in-law
Carpi Asturias … Karyas
Danilo Posadas … (as Danny Posadas)
Belen Chikote … (as Belen Chicote)
Tommy Yap … Motel Owner
The PETA Kalinangan Ensemble
Ruby Tiong Tan … executive producer
Minda D. Azarcon
Conrado Baltazar … director of cinematography
Film Editing by
Art Direction by
Joey Luna … makeup artist
Rogelio B. Pasicolan … in charge of production
George Santos … production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Jerry O’Hara … assistant director
Jun Manuel … set dresser
Bert Miranda … layout
Rudy Baldovino … sound supervisor
Berting Bustos … assistant soundman
Ago Salvador … field soundman
Danny Salvador … sound effects
Camera and Electrical Department
Dharry Boy Bustos … assistant camera
Renato de la Paz … camera lifter
Divino Derige … clapper boy
Jimmy Peralta … still photographer
Roberto Sarmiento … electrician
Romeo Vitug … special publicity shot
Bibsy M. Carballo … publicity and promotions (as Bibsy Carballo)
Boy C. De Guia … publicity and promotions
Emy De Guzman … talent coordinator
Romulo Herangco … utility
Roberto Kabahar … utility
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